As Wisconsin wraps up the regular season on a hot streak looking to extend its streak of top 4 conference finishes, future Badger hoopers are completing their regular seasons at he high school level. It's been a relatively quiet year on the recruiting trail for UW compared to the drama immediately surrounding the program, to the point that the Badgers don't even know which new faces will be joining the program next season.
Wisconsin has two open scholarships for 2016 and at this point seems unlikely to sign anyone, opting to roll those available spots to next year. The situation makes UW's only currently committed recruit, class of 2017 shooting guard Kobe King, all the more important.
King has led La Crosse (Wis.) Central High School to an 18-4 record and a No. 8 ranking in Wisconsin's Division 2 high school basketball state rankings. He leads the team in scoring with a 26.5 points per game average heading into the postseason.
However, scoring is not the only thing in King's repertoire. Twice in the last two weeks King has exhibited his ability to dominate a game rebounding the ball. First, in a February 16 win over La Crosse Aquinas (current Badger Bronson Koenig's alma mater), King had 36 points and 18 boards. Then again on February 24, King tallied 28 points and 18 rebounds in the Red Raiders' regular season finale against Tomah.
Listed at 6’4, King approaches the game with a classic scorer/slasher mentality. A quick review of some of his game highlights this season show a bulk of his points come off of attacking dribble drives. His ability to finish in traffic while absorbing contact will pay dividends in Big Ten conference play where shots in the lane are not for the faint of heart.
But perhaps the most surprising, or at least underrated, aspect of his game is his mid-range game. It is common in high school basketball to see players (especially high major Division 1 prospects) use their athleticism to get to the rim or now -- thanks to Steph Curry -- bomb away from the three-point line.
King is certainly more than capable in both of those areas, but he also has a very nice pull-up jumper. He has great control and elevates over the defender very well. For a player like King that attacks the rim so frequently, the ability to change it up with jump shots really keeps defenders off balance.
You won't see a sweeter free throw stroke either.
When King gave Wisconsin a verbal commitment back in September, there was uncertainty about if and when Bo Ryan would step down as head coach. There has been some speculation that now King's continued commitment is tied heavily to Greg Gard remaining as head coach at Wisconsin. Even though the question mark at head coach factors into King’s commitment status with the Badgers, he did throw up the W during pre-game introductions earlier this month (Gard was in attendance, but still).
Friday's job posting appears to be a step in the right direction to keep the cornerstone of Wisconsin's future on board.
With King's help, La Crosse Central’s season continues as a No. 1 seed in Sectional #1 of the WIAA Division 2 playoff bracket. The Red Raiders will be one of the favorites to advance to the state finals in Madison. Central hosts the winner of Tomah and New Richmond in a regional semifinal on Friday, March 4 at 7 pm.